The House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to subpoena documents and testimony from President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and 11 other people in Trump’s orbit as part of its ongoing investigations into allegations that the president obstructed justice.
The committee also subpoenaed documents related to the administration’s immigration policies, as the humanitarian crisis on the nation’s southwest border reaches a new boiling point.
“We have given the administration ample time to respond to these serious reports of egregious conduct. This committee cannot sit idly by,” Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said at the hearing. “There must be oversight and accountability.”
The subpoenas could spell trouble for Kushner, a senior White House aide who has tended to avoid the spotlight but who also made frequent appearances in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
If Kushner testifies, House Democrats are likely to press him on a meeting he and former national security advisor to Trump, Michael Flynn, had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower on Nov. 16, 2016, in which Kushner allegedly asked Kislyak about setting up a secure back-channel between Russian officials and the Trump transition team.
The list of former Trump campaign or administration officials the committee voted to subpoena Thursday includes Flynn, former White House Chief of Staff and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Those former officials are likely to have information on the Trump administration’s contacts with Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump’s alleged efforts to dampen or halt the Mueller probe.
The committee also voted to subpoena the editor of the National Enquirer, Dylan Howard, along with its publisher, David Pecker, as part of an investigation into whether they bought the exclusive rights to — and then buried — the stories of two women who say they had affairs with Trump as part of an alleged hush-money scheme.
“Today is the chairman’s chance to show he has what it takes and will not wilt when the spotlight is brightest. That’s all today’s episode is about,” the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), said Thursday.
“It sure isn’t about oversight,” Collins continued. “It’s simply about politics.”
Trump took to Twitter during the hearing to rage at House Democrats.
“Now the Democrats have asked to see 12 more people who have already spent hours with Robert Mueller, and spent a fortune on lawyers in so doing,” the president tweeted. “How many bites at the apple do they get before working on Border Loopholes and Asylum.”
Also on Thursday, the committee issued three subpoenas related to the administration’s immigration policies:
- the “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in thousands of children being separated from their families when they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at areas in-between the official border-crossing post last year,
- family and child detention policies along the U.S.-Mexico border, and
- a reported promise that Trump would pardon acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan if he faced any legal consequences for closing the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of the arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants — a threat the administration never followed through on.
The immigration-related subpoenas come as the humanitarian crisis on the nation’s southwest border reaches a new boiling point.
Last month, the Associated Press revealed squalid conditions at a shelter for migrant children near El Paso, Texas; a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is holding immigrants in cells that are nearly double their capacity; and ProPublica revealed a secret Facebook group for Border Patrol agents that included sexist memes about members of Congress and jokes about migrant children dying in CBP custody.
Nadler said Thursday that he and other committee members requested information about holding facilities along the southwest border in May, but that the Department of Homeland Security has not responded to that request.
“Having been to El Paso twice this year, I was already aware that conditions were deplorable and unacceptable, and with the release of two DHS Office of Inspector General reports, my concerns have grown exponentially,” Nadler said. “To date, DHS has not provided a single briefing or any response to the letter.”